It’s no secret that our drivers will receive severe winter weather in the various locations that our company operates. In all honesty, it’s best to be prepared for the worst. Below are a few common issues we face in the freezing conditions that cost us time and money. However, with extra precautions, these issues can be avoided. Therefore, please utilize these safety tips and precautions during the upcoming winter months:
Winter Weather Tips
Have Extra Clothing, Food, and Accessories
- Make sure to always have extra warm clothing and food in the truck during the winter months. Being prepared by having extra warm clothing and food in the truck on a weekly basis can be a lifesaver. Always make sure to have extra warm clothing, a winter jacket, hat, gloves, insulated socks, extra blankets, fuel additive, windshield washer fluid, phone charger, extension cord, flashlight, batteries, shovel, extra fuel filters/a wrench to change the fuel filter, a propane torch/extra propane refill bottle, and chains or tire socks.
Use Caution In Snow and Icy Conditions
- Walk slowly and watch where you are going. Please do not get in a hurry so that we can avoid slips and falls. Use three points of contact when climbing on any surface.
Remove Ice and Snow from the Truck
- Keep the windshield defrosted. Make sure the mirrors, windows, and lights are not obstructed by ice or snow.
Inspect Your Tractor and Trailer
- Check the tire pressure, battery, fluid levels, lights, exhaust pipe, and defrosters daily before you hit the road. Make sure your lights are turned on so other motorists can see you. Keeping the rubber caps on hydraulic fittings and in-transit heat can make a big difference and save a lot of time for the customers.
- Make sure your fifth wheel has been completely latched when hooking trailers. You have to physically push in the pin a lot of the time to get it to lock in the wintertime. Always perform a tug test. Watch the following video if you need help with the trailer hookup process: Trailer Hookup Procedure.
Be Sure Your Fuel is Treated to the Coldest Temperature
- Terminal fuel in Plattsmouth or South Sioux City will always be blended and pretreated during cold weather, so no need to add additives when fueling at one of the terminals. We use Arctic Blast here at the yard, but other brands like Howe’s and Power Service work well, too. Just make sure it is treated for the temperature you will be experiencing. Check the weather forecast along your route. Do not run your fuel too low in the case you become stranded.
Load Temperature-Sensitive Products at the Correct Temperature
- First, you have to check for yourself. If it is not warm enough, notify dispatch. If you are not sure if it is warm enough, notify dispatch. We have to take precautions to avoid turning a warm liquid product into a cold, solid product. Our insulated trailers lose about six degrees of temperature per day. If the product is loaded warm enough, you put yourself in a much better position to avoid problems.
Carry Extra Fusible Plugs
- Be sure to carry a couple extra “Fusible Plugs” in your truck with you, this can save us a lot of time and money on the road if you need one when you pull up to fill your trailer and your current one was melted out by the last washout. We have had to pay as much as $200 on the road for this $2 part. Extra plugs are available from the shop at both terminals.
Have a Torch in Your Truck
- Please pick a torch up from the shop in South Sioux City or Plattsmouth. If you are a newer driver and this is your first winter, please ask for help if you are not certain on how to operate the torch or when and how to use it. When storing the torch in your truck, always remove the black striker portion from the top of the tank bottle.
Frozen Brakes Ruin Tires Almost Immediately
- Always double-check that your wheels are turning before taking off. If they are not turning, tap the brake drum with a hammer to release the brakes.
Call Dispatch If You Need Help With In-Transit Heat
- Dispatch will help get you set up. In-transit heat takes five or six hours to start doing its job in keeping the product warm. It will not heat the product. Be sure to run your in-transit heat right away if it is required. Do not wait until later. Watch the following video if you need help with in-transit heating: In-Transit Heat Training for Tanker Trailer.
- The roads could be icy with blowing snow and high winds at times. Please do your best to slow down and make good judgment calls when you can or cannot drive any longer. Most accidents occur because drivers don’t adjust their speed according to the road conditions. For example, while driving on a snow-covered road, you may need to compensate for the poor traction by reducing your speed. Moreover, going slow will also give you more time to react if anything goes wrong.
Watch for Bridges and Entrance/Exit Ramps
- These areas will freeze first and be extra slippery. So slow down and take everything SLOW!
Leave Extra Stopping Distance
- Leave twice the stopping distance when traveling on snow-covered or potentially icy roads. Also, leave twice the amount of space as you normally would when traveling on potentially hazardous roads.
Avoid Stopping on the Shoulder
- Avoid stopping onto the shoulder of the highway because another motorist may mistake you for a moving truck or could potentially slide into you or the equipment.
Find a Safe Haven
- If you feel uncomfortable with the road conditions, find the nearest safe haven and get off the road. Be sure to update your dispatcher and continue to evaluate the road conditions as necessary.
Keep your Fuel Tank Topped Off and Blended
- Try to fuel your truck regularly in the event you are stranded in a traffic backup for extended periods. It helps prevent the fuel from freezing and provides extra weight over the drive tires, which helps to give extra needed traction. Winter storms can shut down roads, close gas stations, and compromise fuel levels.
Plug In Your Truck In Freezing Temperatures
- You must plug in your truck if you are going to shut it down for an extended period of time. The truck shop has extra extension cords if you need one.
Keep an Eye on Your Trailer Tires
- Watch your trailer tires often, especially when you’ve just hooked up to a trailer. Remember, when the last driver dropped off that trailer, the brakes were warm. Make sure the wheels are turning and not frozen. Always check that your trailer brakes are free when taking off. Extra caution needs to be taken when picking up trailers that came out of wash bays. Trailers get washed in a warm, wet environment, then parked outside in freezing temperatures. The brakes are going to be frozen a lot of the time. Drivers need to be able to use a hammer to free up those frozen brakes. If you cannot get your brakes free, contact the trailer shop or anybody here at the yard for help.
Drain Your Air Tanks
- It’s also crucial that you drain your air tanks weekly to keep moisture from freezing in air tanks.
Plan Your Trip With Weather in Mind
- Planning and being prepared for any weather you may incur during your trip is essential, especially during the winter months. Make sure to look for the most efficient route while keeping potential weather hazards in mind. Be sure to check for weather advisories or warnings in all areas you encounter during your trip and plan ahead. The following website is linked to each state’s DOT website for up-to-date road conditions and more: SafeTravelUSA.com.
Let Our Customers Know
- If you are going to be late for pickup and delivery times or windows, please let your dispatcher know you will be late as soon as you can so that they can notify our customers. Generally, our customers are upset when we show up late without calling ahead. When customers are upset, they will find somebody else to do the job. If we call them to let them know, we have done the best we can.
Thank you all in advance for taking these extra precautions during freezing conditions. Following this advice will save you many headaches this winter.
Please drive safe!
To learn more about Liquid Trucking, please call 844-GO-TANKS!